Dear Editor, Mary Kenny’s mention of The Handmaid’s Tale in her aside about terms like ‘forced birther’ (IC 13/6/2019) raises an important point that should be borne in mind by those who would claim that pre-Repeal Ireland was akin to Margaret Atwood’s dystopia.
In the original novel, women are indeed treated as commodities – or white women are, anyway, as all black people are ‘transported’ to North Dakota.
Strikingly, Catholics are among the most prominent victims of a dictatorship which regards women purely as means, and never as ends. The heroin Offred describes seeing the executed bodies of a priest and another Catholic, and recalls how nuns were forced to recant their vows of celibacy.
In a powerful passage, Offred relates how older nuns were banished, while younger ones were forced to become ‘handmaids’, with those who submitted invariably showing the marks of torture and time in solitary confinement. “They don’t let go easily,” she says.
Strikingly, a section of the book detailing how the dystopian Gilead regime arose spells out how new systems tend to be built on older ones and says that the use of surrogate mothers, hired for the purpose, had been a feature of pre-Gilead life that the new regime “legitimised and enforced”.
It would be nice if those who claim to be ‘not a vessel’ would realise such claims are ludicrous while surrogate motherhood is allowed, approved, or campaigned for.
Dundalk, Co. Louth.
Some Scripture on just who goes to Hell
Dear Editor, I have waited for an adequate response to Fr Rolheiser’s article “Who goes to Hell and who doesn’t?” (IC 9/5/2019), but none came. Therefore, in the spirit of charity and brotherly love, I present the following.
The magisterium, in her wisdom in the Catechism of Catholic Church teaches: “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death. It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable” (CCC 393). In Jesus’ own words: “Out of my sight you condemned, into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (cf. Mt 25:31ff).
Fr Rolheiser is not the first teacher in the Church to suggest the idea of an empty Hell. It originates in Origen’s doctrine of the Apokatastasis, which proposes the final restoration of all intelligent creatures to friendship with God.
The doctrine of the Apokatastasis was formally condemned in the first of the famous anathemas pronounced at the Council of Constantinople in 543.
Finally, we learn from the children of Fatima that there are in fact many in Hell. We also learn from Our Lady of Fatima what we should do to avoid Hell as well as save sinners from this terrible fate.
As reported by the children: “You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
PJ O Duibhir,
Bray, Co. Wicklow.
Support their holy hands
Dear Editor, It was good to see Sr Maura making altar breads on the front page of The Irish Catholic this week (IC 13/6/2019). Many of the convents that produced altar breads for many years have been forced to give it up due to declining numbers: the Adoration Sisters on the Falls Road, Belfast, recently ceased production.
While it is possible to get hosts from Church supply companies, could I ask your readers to consider giving their parish or community order to contemplative sisters, like Sr Maura and her Redemptoristine sisters? First of all, you can be sure that the breads are made with the greatest care, mingled with that very special ingredient, the prayers of the sisters. Second, it is a way of supporting these communities of very devoted women who live by faith and the work of their hands.
Fr Brendan McConvery CSsR,
Belfast, Co. Antrim.
Christ alone saves souls
Dear Editor, Having reached the groves of old age – the Autumn of my life – I regret that my formative years, were devoid of State education. And, among my reasons for this pained, ongoing frame of mind, is the so-called ‘Catholic Ethos’.
Indeed, we have in our midst, a widespread disregard for the Catholic/moral lifestyle in today’s society. So much for the Catholic ‘ethos’; so much for the social separatists (Catholic boarding-school students) whose parents manifested their perceived/believed, chattering-class mentality, by implementing this social-climbing mechanism. And even if Catholic, cloistered, separatist boarding education does not produce a Catholic/moral lifestyle – then, I’m rest assured that the so-called Catholic ‘ethos’ is fruitless. Religious faith primarily finds its roots in the home.
Of course, no school, or no boarding school, or no church, or no denomination saves: only Christ saves – see Acts 4:12.
Downpatrick, Co. Down.
No need for change
Dear Editor, It was reassuring to read Fr Martin O’Brien’s comments on how claims about the Pope having changed the words of the Our Father are, basically, fake news. Indeed, never mind French, Spanish, Portuguese and now Italian – even in Irish the Lord’s Prayer petitions God not to abandon or allow us to temptation!
The real issue with the prayer is that while in English we say “lead us not into temptation”, a more accurate translation would read “lead us not into the testing place”. But would such a change be worthwhile?
Blanchardstown, Dublin 15